The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
–Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. president
A recurring conversation is discussed year in and year out amongst the Dallas Cowboy faithful – when will Jerry Jones hire a general manager. Word across the state of Texas and within the organization itself is NEVER! A great leader surrounds himself with great supporters and even greater people. A great leader doesn’t have to be an expert in every facet of the business, he hires those people with experience and knowledge in specific areas. Why doesn’t Jerry hire people other than immediate family to run the corporation? Tell us, Jerry, why the lack of trust / faith in people outside the circle of trust?
In 1989, Jones purchased the Dallas Cowboys, fired the heart and soul of the Cowboys, Mr. Tom Landry, and hired Jimmy Johnson, a teammate from Arkansas. Johnson won back-to-back Super bowls in 1992 and 1993, then moved on when the two men could no longer work together. Barry Switzer, another fellow teammate at Arkansas, was hired as head coach in 1994. In addition to Switzer coming on board, Jones named himself general manager. The Cowboys did win the 1995 Super bowl; but Switzer would only stick around another three years. Five coaches later, one playoff win in 15 years, and the same owner/general manager. There is a common denominator here and it is does not have anything to do with the color blue, the star, or the name Cowboys. It is Jerry Jones.
Comparing the front offices of the two 2012 Super Bowl teams with the Dallas Cowboys, something very obvious stands out on the Cowboys list.
President/CEO – John Mara
Chairman/Executive Vice President – Steve Tisch
Senior Vice President/General Manager – Jerry Reese
Senior Vice President of Player Personnel – Chris Mara
Assistant General Manager – Kevin Abrams
Director of Pro Personnel – David Gettleman
Director of College Scouting – Marc Ross
Assistant Director of Pro Personnel – Ken Sternfeld
Head Coach – Tom Coughlin
Chairman/CEO – Robert Kraft
President – Jonathan Kraft
Senior Football Advisor – Floyd Reese
Director of Player Personnel – Nick Caserio
Director of College Scouting – Jon Robinson
Director of Pro Personnel – Jason Licht
Assistant Director of Pro Personnel – Bob Quinn
Assistant Director of College Scouting – Brian Smith
Football Research Director – Ernie Adams
Head Coach – Bill Belichick (acting General Manager)
Owner/President/General Manager – Jerry Jones
COO/Executive Vice President/Director of Player Personnel – Stephen Jones
Assistant Director of Player Personnel – Tom Ciskowski
Director of Football Administration – Todd Williams
Assistant Director of Pro Scouting – Judd Garrett
Head Coach – Jason Garrett
Within the Cowboys front office is basically a Jones/Garrett family daily picnic. Jerry’s other son, Jerry Jr, is the Executive Vice President/Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, while his daughter, Charlotte, is the Executive Vice President Brand Management/President of Charities. There is also another Garrett, John, on the coaching staff, and father Garrett was a scout for the Cowboys in the late 80’s-90’s. This is nepotism at it’s finest. Apparently Jerry does not believe in hiring people outside the Arkansas family tree. If he does, and they do not answer to his every beck and call, they are out. Strong personalities be warned!
The general manager of an organization usually handles the responsibilities involved with player contract negotiations. This person also hires and fires the coaching staff, the owner does not usually handle this function. The GM oversees the entire football department, who then reports back to the owner or team president. So, in the case of the Dallas Cowboys, the person who negotiates with players, hires and fires the coaching staff, oversees the entire football department, then reports back to himself is none other than, Jerry Jones. Does anyone else see a problem with this concept? Apparently, he did not read the Teddy Roosevelt memo aka mission statement. Regardless, Jones believes he is doing a fine job running the Dallas Cowboys.
“The facts are that I’ve spent 22 years doing this exactly the same way, I’ve made a lot of changes from year to year as time goes along, but frankly, I know that when we do not have the kind of success, when we don’t have expectations lived up to, the one that should get the most heat is the one that ultimately makes the decisions, period, with the Dallas Cowboys. And that’s me.”
Sounds like if you continue to do things the same exact way, year in and year out, with the same basic results, it might be time to think about making changes. But here is the thing about Jerry Jones. He loves money too much. The fans continue to pour into the machine and Jerry continues to reap the rewards. He does not have to pay another body to do what he believes he can do himself. He holds the STAR and all the cards in the palm of his greedy hands. If he would ever give up some of that pride and ego, he might just turn this program into the winners they once were.
Take these words to heart from the greatest man you ever fired, Mr. Jones. True words from a true winner.
“Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.” Tom Landry